Despite the development in the medical technology, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently sounded a serious alarm that the rate of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) is quite on the rise, with about 20 million infections recorded every year. While it is impossible to claim that all those infections arose from poor judgement usually associated with one-night stands; however, for the fact that half of new Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) occurs among young people aged 15-24, the demographic that are the most sexually-active and fondest of engaging in the heat of one-night stands, whereby two lusty strangers undermined the significance of safe sex and dived into sexual intercourse unprotected.
How are STDs transmitted?
According to Mayo Clinic, sexually transmitted diseases are mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse. Although, it is possible to contract STDs through non-sexual contacts. For example, a newly born child may get any type of the STDs from his/her mother through contact with the mother’s infected blood or body fluids. STIs are caused by bacteria, yeast, viruses, and parasites.
Different kinds of sexually transmitted diseases
There are 20 types of STDs, but the most virulent ones are Gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Genital herpes, HPV, and Trichomoniasis.
(i) Gonorrhea: This STI is caused by bacteria and it can infect the genital tract, anus, or mouth. It is common in young adults, and an infected pregnant woman can pass it to her baby during childbirth. Some symptoms of gonorrhea are:
- Pain when urinating
- Discharge from penis/vagina
- Bleeding between periods for women
(ii) HIV/AIDS: HIV harms your body by weakening your immune system and destroying the white blood cells that fight infections. AIDS is the final stage of HIV, but not everyone develops AIDS. It may be contracted through sexual intercourse or contact with infected blood. Some of the symptoms of HIV are:
- Swollen glands
- Flu-like symptoms
(iii) Syphilis: This STI is caused by bacteria. Many people may not notice Syphilis symptoms for years. And some of these symptoms are:
- Small painless sore
- Swelling in the nearby lymph nodes
- Non-itchy skin rashes
(iv) Chlamydia: This STI is caused by bacteria, Chlamydia trachomatis, and it can infect both women and men. Women can get chlamydia in the throat, cervix, or rectum. Men can have it in the rectum, urethra (inside the penis), or throat. Some of the symptoms of chlamydia are:
- Abnormal, smelly vaginal discharge (women)
- Pain during intercourse (women)
- A burning sensation when urinating (both men and women)
- Discharge from penis (men)
- Burning or itching around the penis’ opening (men)
- Swelling and pain in one or both testicles (men)
(v) Genital herpes: This is caused by a herpes simplex virus (HSV), and it can be contracted from having sexual intercourse with someone who has already been infected by the virus. Some of the genital herpes symptoms are:
- Sores on genital, buttocks, rectal area, or things
- Pains or itching around the genitals, thighs, and buttocks
(vi) HPV: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of connected viruses, and they are mainly spread through sexual contact. There are 200 types of these viruses, and about 40 of them affect genitals. High-risk HPV can cause various cancers such as vaginal cancer, cervical cancer, penile cancer, vulvar cancer, and so on. Some of the HPV symptoms are:
- Cause warts on different parts of the body
- Itching in your genital
- Bleeding with intercourse
- Gray or flesh-colored swellings in your genital area
(vii) Trichomoniasis: This STD is caused by a parasite, and can be contracted through sexual contact. It may not show any symptoms within 5 to 28 days after infection. Some of the trichomoniasis symptoms are:
- Itching in or near the vagina
- Vaginal odor
- Discomfort during sex
- Painful urination
- Yellow-green or gray vaginal discharge
If you detected any of the symptoms highlighted above, you should immediately see your doctor for proper diagnosis. STIs that are caused by bacteria such as gonorrhea, Trichomoniasis, Syphilis, and Chlamydia may be treated with antibiotics. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS and HPV, but genital herpes can be treated with antiviral drugs.
According to CDC, the total estimated direct cost of Sexually Transmitted Infections annually in the U.S. is about $1.6 billion. That’s a whole lot of money to be squandered on sexual indiscretion! Play safe by using barriers such as condoms, which may reduce the rate of infection but may not completely stop an STI. Abstaining from sex or/and maintaining a monogamous union can also help you to avoid contracting STIs. If you want to show love to your partner, engaging in low-risk acts such as kissing and cuddling may protect you against STIs than having sexual intercourse. And if you can exercise some patience, you may be lucky to detect that your partner has already been infected with an STD and quickly advise him/her to get tested.